Swimmer's ear (otitis externa) is an inflammation of the ear canal
by bacterial or fungal infection, or dermatitis (eczema).
Swimmer's ear is usually a result of using objects such as cotton
swabs in the ear canal which cause irritation and remove the protective
wax. Infection can then develop following prolonged retention of
water from swimming or bathing.
are the symptoms?
Usually there is mild pain and/or itching that may progress to severe
pain, drainage and/or decrease in hearing. There is a possibility
of low grade fevers, enlargement of lymph nodes, and pain and swelling
of the ear canal. Usually the middle ear and ear drum are not involved.
can you do?
Take the prescribed medication exactly as instructed. If you are
uncertain about any aspect of your antibiotic treatment ask for
Take aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen every 4-6 hours for fever
and discomfort. Aspirin and ibuprofen have anti- inflammatory properties
and may be of more help in relieving pain. These should not be taken
together. Choose one.
must keep your ear dry. No swimming or other activity that allows
water or other fluid (except the prescribed medication) in the canal
must be allowed. When showering place a cotton ball coated with
petroleum jelly at the entrance to the ear canal. Wet your hair
last, and dry it first.
avoid further problems:
- Never put irritants such as full strength alcohol in ears to dry
- Use a hair dryer to dry ears.
- Do not use objects like cotton swabs to remove wax.
health care personnel:
- If there is no improvement in 2-3 days of beginning treatment.
- If the pain becomes severe.
- If the fever persists despite treatment.
- Anytime you are unaware of what to do.
to Common Ailments page
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